Chicago Division Leadership

Brian McKnight, Special Agent in Charge
Brian McKnight, Special Agent in Charge

Brian M. McKnight was appointed the Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Division on December 23, 2017.  As the Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Division, Mr. McKnight oversees a staff of almost 700 personnel including Special Agents, Diversion Investigators, Intelligence Analysts, Task Force Officers, Professional Staff, and Contractors. Mr. McKnight manages the investigative and enforcement strategies of the Chicago Division, which are directed at investigating transnational criminal organizations, as well as “violent gangs” involved in drug trafficking.  Mr. McKnight has oversight responsibility for drug enforcement operations in the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin where over 25 million people live. 

Mr. McKnight previously served as DEA’s Chief Inspector, where he oversaw the Office of Security Programs, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Office of Inspections.  In 2015, Mr. McKnight was appointed to the Senior Executive Service overseeing the OPR.  Mr. McKnight also served as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge in the Miami Division where he led six (6) multi-agency task force groups, and guided the development high-level international investigations as well as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) investigation.  In this capacity, Mr. McKnight was responsible for the development of several Attorney General Exempted Operations that resulted in over 50 million dollars in U.S. currency seized from drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. 

While assigned to DEA Headquarters, Mr. McKnight served as a Section Chief and Chief (Acting) for Global Financial Operations, for DEA where he was responsible for directing, and overseeing strategies, policy and financial enforcement programs. He oversaw a 20 million dollar budget and was responsible for representing DEA within interagency community as it related to coordination and implementation of U.S. sanctions, specifically OFAC designations and other Treasury measures targeting global drug and money laundering organizations.   From 2006-2011, as a Supervisory Special Agent in the Miami Division, Mr. McKnight led a multi-agency federal task force in conducting high-level investigations against international drug traffickers, including Colombian Paramilitary Groups who were responsible for sending multi-ton shipments of cocaine into the U.S.  Mr. McKnight and his teams operated throughout Europe, Central and South America and Africa, leading numerous sensitive investigations for DEA.  For more than a decade, Mr. McKnight planned high risk undercover operations involving multi-tiered criminal organizations and secured indictments and extraditions of 10 Consolidated Priority Organizational Targets.   

Mr. McKnight joined DEA as a Special Agent in 1996, hiring on in the New England Division.  Mr. McKnight has received many awards throughout his career, including the United States Attorney General’s Award; the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Federal Law Enforcement Award of Excellence; DEA Administrator’s Awards for Outstanding Group Achievements.  Mr. McKnight is the recipient of several United States Attorney’s Law Enforcement Excellence Awards, Miami-Dade County Police Chiefs Association Excellence Awards, and the National Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Award.

Mr. McKnight holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Administration of Justice from Roger Williams University, in Rhode Island and has completed Post-Graduate Work towards a Master’s Degree in Administration of Justice.   

Mr. McKnight attended the University of Notre Dame, Executive Leadership Institute in South Bend, Indiana.  Most recently, Mr. McKnight attended the Harvard University Collaborative Leadership Program in Boston, Massachusetts.  Mr. McKnight resides in the city of Chicago.

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